Roseanne Cash Kicks Off New Campaign for Brand USA

Country signer Rosanne Cash wailing a tune called “Land of Dreams” is the grabber in a global campaign for U.S. Tourism that will be unveiled today at International Pow Wow 2012, which opened yesterday at the Los Angeles Convention Center and runs for three days. The spot carries the tagline “Discover this land like never before,” Andy Fixmer reports in Bloomberg Businessweek.

“We knew we had to change people’s opinions,” says Jim Evans, CEO of Washington-based Brand USA, “It’s critical we show the U.S. as a nation of freedom, diversity and a lot of fun.”

The Pow Wow event “is NOT a “typical trade show,” according to a website write-up for the gathering promoting “Brand USA,” a public private partnership with the mission of promoting increased international travel to the United States. 



“In just three days of intensive pre-scheduled business appointments, more than 1,000 U.S. travel organizations from every region of the USA (representing all industry category components), and close to 1,200 International and Domestic Buyers from more than 70 countries, conduct business negotiations that result in the generation of over $3.5 billion in future Visit USA travel.”

Brand USA -- formerly known as the clunkier Corporation for Travel Promotion -- is governed by an 11-member board of directors appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Although the new campaign by JWT, New York, will promote the country as a whole, companies that donate a minimum of $1 million in cash and $4 million in in-kind contributions are specifically mentioned in the ads, Hugo Martin reports in the Los Angeles Times. Marriott International, Walt Disney and Best Western International have contributed the minimum amount. 

"Those that can't donate those dollars still benefit from the overall campaign," Chris Perkins, the campaign’s CMO, tells Martin. "By selling the whole nation, they all stand to benefit."

“The stakes are high,” Harvey Chipkin points out in a Marketing:Travel piece published in MediaPost last week. “International travelers average 16 nights on each visit and spend $4,000 on their trips –- making them substantially more valuable than the average domestic traveler.” But the U.S. share of market has been seriously eroding since 9/11.

“Between 2000 and 2010, America's share as a destination of the long-haul travel market slipped to 12% from 17%. That adds up to a lost decade for American travel with 467,000 lost jobs, $606 billion in lost spending by visitors, and $37 billion in lost tax revenue,” wrote Roger J. Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal last November.

One of the major issues -- one that Americans, whose greatest inconvenience in traveling internationally is often the traffic on the way to the airport, may not be aware of –- is the hassle involved in getting a visa to visit the U.S. 

“The supply of visas for travel to the U.S. has not kept pace with skyrocketing demand in key emerging markets. Applicants are sometimes kept waiting more than 100 days for an interview,” Dow wrote. “And with a limited number of America consulates around the world, thousands of potential visitors lack easy access to the visa process.”

As an example, Dow portrayed the hassle that a Brazilian family wanting to travel in the U.S. goes through to get a visa. It’s probably not coincidental that the State Department announced in February that “by adding staff, extending interview hours, and expanding facilities, the department has dramatically reduced longer wait times experienced at the height of the busy season last summer.” 

 “Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, composed ‘Land of Dreams’ for the campaign and appears in commercials that feature the singer performing with other musicians from around the world under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York,” Fixmer reports. A broader campaign featuring other musicians performing in their favorite cities is forthcoming online and on TV stations around the world.

As Cash sings, Martin writes, “images of smiling Americans playing on the beach, running through fields of flowers and dancing in streets flash across the screen. That’s a decidedly different message than Cash’s “Burn Down This Town,” which contains the chorus:

The clapper jail and the co-op board
The garden club and the bedroom door
Sprinkled lawn and the mirrored hall
The Christmas tree
Just burn it all

Burn down this town
Burn down this town

That’s true testimony to the redemptive qualities inherent to country music and, hopefully, to the rejuvenation of international travel to these shores.

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